The goal poacher is somewhat of a dying breed. Strikers nowadays tend to offer a lot more than just scoring goals; they tend to be good on the ball, comfortable at linking the play and good at harrying defenders and pressing the ball to help their team defend from the front. The poacher though, has always been primarily about scoring goals. So in an age of false nines and 4-6-0 formations, who are the best poachers in Europe at the moment?
|Goals||Conversion||Shot accuracy||Take-ons per game||Passes per game|
It’s worth noting that all ten of Diego Costa’s goals have come inside the box, the hall-mark of a poacher, even if he does see more of the ball than the other players listed here with an average of 27.6 passes per game. These players are some of the top goal scorers in Europe right now. Obviously a player like Lionel Messi is not a poacher. Messi is an effective penalty box finisher but he offers a whole lot more.
An interesting case study example here is the case of Anthony Modeste of Hoffenheim. Modeste only completes 18.1 passes per game and only attempts 0.8 dribbles per game yet has scored six goals so far this season. Whilst his conversion isn’t as impressive as some of the other players listed here, it is still clear that he is very much a poacher given his lack of all round contribution aside from goals. Again, like Diego Costa he has scored all six of his goals from inside the penalty area with most coming around the six yard box. Modeste’s low number of touches of the ball is also striking considering he has started in all eight of his appearances this season.
In contrast to this Emmanuel Riviere, one of three Ligue One players listed here, has started four of his seven games, appearing as a sub in his other three outings. Riviere has even less of an all round impact than Modeste, averaging under nine passes per game, yet has scored an impressive six times for his club. Three of these goals came inside the six yard box, with three from further out. His chance conversion of 40% is also top class.
Riviere’s contribution in conjunction with AS Monaco team-mate Radamel Falcao shows how scary the clubs striking options are. Falcao has contributed seven goals this season with the best chance conversion of the five players listed here at a prolific 43.8 percent. Falcao, like team mate Riviere has also scored three of his goals inside the six yard box whilst scoring two from the penalty spot and a further two also inside the box. Falcao’s contribution of just five chances created for his team-mates in nine games, coupled with a low number of dribbles and passes per game show that he is more of a goal poacher than anything else. Of course he has a lot to offer, but his primary function is to score goals, something he does very, very well.
Edison Cavani is in a similar mould. Another player who joined Ligue One for a very expensive transfer fee in the summer. Cavani has however not been as efficient in front of goal, converting just 22.5% of his chances, the lowest conversion of those examined here. One would expect a higher conversion rate from such a sought after forward. Again though, like the others, he also attempts few dribbles and has a low number of touches of the ball, demonstrating that he is very much an in the box forward, rather than a link man.
All of these strikers possess similar characteristics. Most of them score the lions share (or all of) their goals from inside the box. Further to that they tend not to take many touches of the ball, but are solely in the side to score. One wouldn’t expect these players (perhaps barring Diego Costa) to beat five defenders and then score a goal. Instead a large number of the goals they score are scored from in and around the six yard box.